The Problem With Pain 2 - Foundations Family Counseling

The Problem With Pain

I will start by stating the obvious: addressing pain is usually scary, uncomfortable, and down right hard. Our culture glorifies the value in appearing well-put-together and seeming strong, confident, and ‘fine.’ Fine is the most given answer to the everyday social question “how are you doing?” It is easier to respond with ‘fine’ than anything else. Perhaps the ‘anything else’ feels too vulnerable to share. Do you remember seeing the 2003 film, “The Italian Job?” They describe F.I.N.E. with the following acronym:

Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional.

There may be truth to this hidden meaning behind our frequent use of the word. We have all been there, right? It seems as though anything other than being ‘fine’ or ‘okay’ is not considered socially appropriate to discuss or share openly.

So what is the value in addressing our feelings that are difficult and deep? There is beauty in pain and it is actually of great worth. The “shadow self” that Jungian psychology is known for might be the key to living a more free and authentic life. It is the deep shadow self that contains and carries our deepest wounds, hurts, and insecurities. It is not unusual for us to be afraid of this part of ourselves and even more afraid to reveal it to others.

Who can go through this life unscathed? No one I know. Pain and darkness is part of the human experience. We are all in this together experiencing the good, the bad, and the ugly. To deny one’s pain is to build a wall of protection around ones self. There is a legitimate need for protection and shelter at times. I am not indicating we go around bleeding our life experiences to everyone we encounter. However exploring the darkest parts of our lives is essential to knowing and loving ones self fully and in turn being able to love others fully.

This is where counseling comes in. Skilled and experienced therapists are trained to process, experience, accept and share their shadow selves as well as able to walk with others through theirs. Our culture has great difficulty providing environments of safety in everyday relationships to explore these deepest darkest parts of self. As such, the therapeutic process is an opportunity to begin this journey.

The therapeutic journey can unlock the parts of you that are most afraid to be seen and at the same time desperate to be revealed and nurtured. It takes courage to do so. As a therapist, it is the greatest honor to walk with others as they come face to face with their pain and to go beyond feeling ‘fine.’

If you are struggling with wounds, hurts, or insecurities, one of our Denver, Boulder, or Littleton therapists can help. Give us a call at 303-393-0085 or email us at and we can help you take the first step in moving through your pain.

~ Alison Cotter, LPC